PAKISTAN: Three Sindhi nationalists were arbitrarily detained in military custody – their families are threatened that they will receive the bodies if they continue to agitate.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that three young men from Sindh province were taken into custody from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, by personnel from the security forces. Their arrest prompted continuous protests from Sindh nationalists following which ISI personnel informed their family members that they are detained in two different Cantonments in Sindh province. The ISI officials went on to say that if the families continued to protest their detention and news subsequently appeared in the media, the families would receive their dead bodies. The detainees were Sindhi nationalists and belong to the Jeay Sindh Quomi Mahaz (JSQM) which is striving for greater autonomy for Sindh province.
A case for their release from military detention has been filed in the Sindh High Court and the families and their lawyer are waiting for action to be taken by the court.
On 13 September, the detainees, namely, Shahid Junejo the son of Muhammad Ibrahim Junejo, Zamir Hussain, the son of Gulsher Khaskeli and Asghar Jamali, the son of Imam Bux Jamali, residents of Larkana, Meharh and Jamshoro districts, Sindh province left Karachi for Quetta in search of employment. On 16 September, many Sindhi language daily newspapers, namely, Daily Kawish, Daily Awami Awaz, Daily Koshish, Daily Fatah, Daily Jeejal, and Daily Fast Times, published the news that the security forces had picked them up from Sorab Road, Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. The news of their arrests reached their families after two days and people of the province started agitating for their safe recovery and the news was widely covered in the local media.
After eight days of their illegal detention, on 21 September, two persons who introduced themselves as employees of Brigadier Qasim of Pakistan’s notorious intelligence service, the ISI, told the families that two of the detainees, Shahid Junejo and Zamir Hussain were in Pano Aqil Cantonment, Sindh, and the third one, Asghar Jamali was being held in Malir Cantonment, Karachi, Sindh.
One of the Brigadier’s employees introduced himself as Mr. Anwer whereas the other one kept quiet throughout the meeting. Anwer threatened them to stop providing news to the media and to stop the nationalist organisation, the JSQM, from holding any further protests otherwise the families would receive the dead bodies of their loved ones. When the family member of Mr. Shahid Junejo tried to explain the position, Anwer simply announced that they had come to tell them clearly what the situation was and not to enter into any discussion with them. After this both of them left immediately.
The above said Cantonment areas are among the 48 cantonments in Pakistan which have torture centers in their premises. Both the Malir and Pano Aqil Cantonments are notorious for keeping nationalists and political activists for long periods and torturing them. In many cases detainees have died of torture. The Sindhi people are constantly agitating against the Cantonments having torture cells where six Balochis have died and their dead bodies simply dumped in Lyari area of Karachi where there are frequent gang fights. By doing so the security agencies are attempting to show that their Balochi victims were killed in a gang war to eliminate the evidence of torture and extrajudicial killings in the military detention centers.
No case or complaint has been registered against the detainees at any Police Station nor have they been produced before any court of law; and it is feared that they would be tortured or extrajudicially killed. It is genuinely feared that the lives of the detainees are in serious danger.
Mr. Gulsher Junejo, the cousin of detainee Shahid Junejo, filed a petition before the Sindh High Court for the safe recovery of the detainees and for them to be produced before the court. The lawyer, Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Lakho hopes that the court will take urgent action on the petition and order the safe recovery of the illegally detained persons.
Such actions from the security agencies, particularly from the military is extra constitutional and above the law. The law is very clear that any detainee must be produced before a court of law within 24 hours after arrest.
The security agencies behave as if they are above the law and never respect the orders of the higher courts who feel themselves slaves before these agencies.
The Pakistan army has 57 torture cells in their 48 cantonments, the Pakistan Air Force runs at least five torture cells including one at its headquarters in Chack Lala. It is the same with the Pakistan Navy which runs at least three torture cells in Karachi and Islamabad. This is very well known to the higher judiciary and successive governments but they have not been allowed to raise any questions about them.
In the recent months many Sindhi nationalists were arrested by the security from different districts of Sindh and kept in military detention centers after which their mutilated bodies were found. Please see below the links of different cases of extrajudicial killings which were documented by the AHRC. These links show how ruthlessly the Pakistani security forces deal with the youth of Sindh.
Please write letters to the following authorities calling them to make arrangements for the safe recovery of three young Sindhis from the illegal detention centers of Pakistan army. Please urge them to stop such practices by the security agencies that illegally arrest, detain, torture and extra judicially kill innocent people and bring these agencies before the law. The officials of the ISI from Sindh must be prosecuted for running a state within a state parallel to the law of the land and killing activists.
The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Arbitrary detention calling for his intervention into this matter.
Originally published by Asian Human Rights Commission